Tag Archives: holiday wine

Holiday 2010 gift guide redux

Still stumped? Never fear. The Wine Curmudgeon has you covered:

? Our annual holiday gift guide, which has links to several previous gift guides, as well as a link to the Wine Curmudgeon's gift giving guidelines.

? The holiday wine category, which has links to all of the posts about holiday wine. And yes, it's allowed to adapt a Thanksgiving wine for a Christmas or New Year's gift.

? The expensive wine category, which has links to all of the posts and reviews about expensive wine. Because, frankly, if it's an expensive wine that I liked, odds are that it would make a nice gift.

Wine review: Bolla Valpolicella 2009

This is the first wine I ever drank. It is, in fact, the first wine I have any memory of. In the 1970s, if you were a “serious” wine drinker in the United States, you drank French Beaujolais, California burgundy or chablis (which were not necessarily pinot noir or chardonnay), German liebfraumilch, Lancers and Mateus rose, or the Italian Bolla. My father, an Italophile, drank the Bolla.

Which meant I did, too. I brought it with me with when I went to someone’s house for dinner. I bought it to impress girls (one of my first big dates, actually). I had no idea whether the wine was any good. I knew very little about wine 30 years ago; the Bolla was wine, and that was good enough.

Bolla, as a brand, mostly disappeared in the 1990s. It was bought and sold several times, and I had not seen it in years. And then, at the grocery store this week, there it was. I checked with my Italian wine expert, who told me, yes, the current owners dusted the brand off, changed the label, and are bringing it back.

Memory is part of wine, as much as the grapes or the soil. This is one of Alfonso Cevola’s favorite themes, that it’s not just what the wine tastes like now, but what we remember of the tasting — who we were with, where we were, what we were doing when we tasted it. So when I opened the Bolla ($6, purchased), I was thinking about my dad and Chicago in the 1970s and the girls I bought it for. The Wine Curmudgeon was sipping and analyzing, but Jeff Siegel was remembering.

So maybe this is memory talking. Maybe the Bolla isn’t what I tasted the other day — young and disjointed, yes, but fresh and clean, with a funky Italian nose and lots of sour cherry fruit. It’s an incredible value at this price, a wine for winter stews and red meat and tomato sauce. And, of course, for memory.

Holiday gift guide 2010

A few thoughts for the wine drinkers on your list. Keep in mind our wine gift-giving guidelines ("Don't buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like") and Champagne and sparkling wine glossary.

? $10 wine: Volteo, five Spanish wines that combine quality, value and approachability. I especially liked the tempranillo and a white blend made with viura, viognier and sauvignon blanc (which I haven't reviewed yet, and might be better than the tempranillo). These wines will likely end up in the 2011 $10 Hall of Fame.

? Regional wine: Have someone on your list who likes wine, but can be difficult to buy for? Then think regional. There is New York riesling, Texas viognier, Virginia red blends, Missouri norton, New Mexican sparkling, and Pennsylvania chambourcin — to name just a few.

? A top-flight corkscrew: The best corkscrews are double-hinged — the part of the corkscrew that rests against the top of the bottle has two parts, which makes pulling the cork that much easier. Best yet, they cost as little as $10.

? Wine books: Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course and The Wine Trials 2011. Yes, I recommend the Zraly book all the time, but that's because it's that good. I even give it as a gift. This is the new version of the Wine Trials, which rates wines that cost $15 and less, and is up to its usual standards.

? Expensive wine: My standby is Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet, a $50 wine that offers depth and  complexity. It's white Burgundy, which means chardonnay, but not like chardonnay that most of us have ever had. My red wine choice is HDV's Belle Cousine, a $60 merlot blend from Napa made by Burgundy native Stephane Vivier.

More about holiday wine gifts:
? Holiday book gift guide 2009
? Holiday wines 2009
? Expensive wine 21: Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
? Holiday wine in a hurry

Winebits 157: Holiday gift guide

? Dave McIntyre on books: The Washington Post wine columnist suggests efforts by importer Terry Thiese, writer Matt Kramer, and Laura Catena on Argentine wines. High praise for the Thiese book: "And if you wonder why wine matters so much to a loved one in your life, let Theise explain."

? Jon Bonne on wine: The San Francisco Chronicle wine writer offers a variety of gift strategies, and our old pal, Pine Ridge's chenin blanc-viognier blend, shows up as one of the best wines to bring to a party. Great description, too: "like wet pine needles after rain".

? Tom Johnson on kitsch: How does the proprietor of the Louisville Juice blog find this stuff — a moose horn wine glass, brass knuckles wine opener, and bathroom humor wine labels?

Thanksgiving wine 2010

Suggestions for Thanksgiving wine, and please don't agonize over pairings and propriety and pinot noir. Thanksgiving is not about scoring points with the wine snobs, but about sharing what you have with friends and family. In other words, if Aunt Dorothy likes white zinfandel, who are you tell her she can't have any? More, after the jump:

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Winebits 155: Thanksgiving wine, best wines, Kluge winery

? Wine blogs and Thanksgiving: There's a spirited discussion at Louisville Juice questioning whether wine blogs should offer Thanksgiving wine advice, and the consensus seems to be that it's kind of silly for us to do so. Or, as the blogger Thomas Pellechia wrote in a comment, "Bloggers are just like print writers – ? every holiday, every year, comes with a discussion of which wine to go with which food or a list of the best. All this proves to me is that print isn ?t dead ? writing is." Which seems an odd thing to say. People have questions about Thanksgiving wine, and it doesn't seem untoward that I — or any other wine writer — should try to answer them. Unless, of course, we're not writing for people who have questions about wine, which is another question entirely.

? Wine Spectator's top wines: A tip o' the Curmudgeon's fedora to my brother, Jim Siegel, for passing this along: The Spectator is releasing its top 10 wines of the year in a cyber-fest of video and on-line updates. It's subscription only, but you can see wines 8, 9, and 10 with a free link through Nov. 28. Two of those wines are $100 each, and the Spectator notes that the average price per bottle for the top 10 is $48. You may draw your own conclusions from the pricing.

? The end for Virginia's Kluge Estate: The winery, one of the best in the state, has been forced into bankruptcy, and an auction will be held on Dec. 8 to cover its $35 million in debts. Kluge will be missed. You can argue that its owners, Patricia Kluge and William Moses, made myriad bad business decisions, but they also made good wine. And it's always a shame when a winery that makes good wine goes out of business — and especially a winery that did so much for regional wine.

Buying Mom wine for Mother’s Day (or anyone for any holiday, for that matter)

Buying Mom wine for Mother's Day (or anyone for any holiday, for that matter)Wine makes a wonderful present, and I say this not just because the Wine Curmudgeon likes to get wine as a gift (white Burgundy, if anyone is reading). That’s because it requires thought and effort. You just can’t pick up the phone and order wine the way you can flowers.

So what does that thought and effort require? Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you want to buy Mom wine — or anyone else, for any holiday or event, when it comes to it:

• Remember that the gift is for Mom, and not for you. If she likes white zinfandel, buy her white zinfandel, even if you think it’s the equivalent of pink iced tea.

• Keep Mom’s wine experience in mind. If she only drinks simple, easily available wines, there’s no need to buy her a 1981 Lafitte-Rothschild. This doesn’t mean you’re cheap; it just means you’re taking Mom’s palate into account.

• Know Mom’s taste in wines. If she likes soft white wines, don’t buy her big, tannic reds (and vice-versa). Again, the idea is to buy her something she’ll enjoy. And how do you tell what she likes, short of asking her and giving it away? Pay attention to what she orders in restaurants or has around the house.

• Buy Mom something that reminds her of a wonderful time that she once had, whether it was a trip to Italy, a visit to Napa Valley, or a special dinner. Get her a wine she had on the trip, drank on the visit or enjoyed at dinner. One of the great secrets of wine is that we remember wines not because they were especially good, but because of what we were doing and who we were with when we drank them.

• Can’t find what Mom likes? Buy something like it, using price and style as a guide. Most $12 California merlots are going to be similar, regardless of producer.